Privé legal battle will proceed to trial, judge rules

Judge Jerald Bagley denied developer's motion for summary judgment

Jun.June 03, 2015 04:30 PM

A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge has denied a motion for summary judgment filed by developers of Privé at Island Estates, paving the way for a trial on the contentious luxury condo project in Aventura, The Real Deal has learned. 

Judge Jerald Bagley’s ruling follows a lawsuit filed by the neighboring Williams Island Property Owners’ Association, which has opposed the 160-unit development.

In his ruling, Bagley confirmed developer Gary Cohen’s vested rights to build on the island. The question of what Cohen can build will be determined at trial.

“There is no question in this Court’s mind that Mr. Cohen, as the trustee, has a vested right,’’ the judge said, according to a court transcript obtained by TRD.

“The issue for the Court is whether or not that vested right extends to building beyond the intended purpose, that is, the single family homes to the condominium units,” Bagley said. “That’s where the Court believes that there is a genuine issue of material fact, as to whether or not the rights are vested to extend beyond the original intended purpose.”

Attorneys for both the Williams Island Property Owners’ Association and for Cohen consider the ruling a victory.

“From our perspective, it’s clear that he’s found what we’ve wanted, which is the vested rights,” attorney Gerald Richman of Richman Greer, which represents the developer, told TRD. “We think that this is a major victory.”

Developers Cohen and BH3 had battled homeowners who oppose the project and the installation of sidewalks. The legal challenges resulted in a delay by the city in issuing building permits for the 160-unit development.

“Last week’s ruling is a tremendous step toward holding Mr. Cohen to his commitment to the residents to build single-family homes,” Susan Raffanello, who represents the homeowners, said in a statement. “Thousands of Aventura residents continue to believe that a just outcome will be achieved, and what was promised will be delivered.”

After months of litigation, developers built their sidewalk in March, despite physical intervention from nearby residents, and received a building permit from the city of Aventura. Pile driving for the foundation is set to begin on Thursday, Richman said.

The twin, 16-story tower development is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2017.

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